Last week we talked about the importance of fun and sharing outdoor experiences with loved ones. This week I thought I'd share some of my personal fitness routine that helps keep me in shape for activities like skiing, hiking, biking, canyoneering, swimming etc... I don't think we talk about fitness enough as outdoor enthusiasts. The better shape we are in, the more activities we can enjoy for longer, and the more fun we'll have! Especially as we get older. The best part about my routine is that it doesn't require a gym membership if you don't want one.
I focus on 4 main exercises: pull-ups, push-ups, air squats and core variations. When I started focusing on this I could do 4 pull-ups before I wanted to give up. So I wasn't exactly a shining example of being in shape. I've improved a lot and I've noticed a difference when I'm enjoying the outdoors. I like these four exercise types because they build practical body strength. Typical outdoor activities rely on endurance, flexibility, and body weight type strength.
What you will need:
Pull-up bar (doorway bars are fine. If you need assistance at first, every gym should have an assist pull-up machine.)
Optional: 20lbs weighted vest
Do this 2-3 days/week. The pull-ups are the most intimidating, so start with an assist machine first if you are new to doing them. Even if you are doing 1 at a time, you will notice steady improvement over time. I've linked to a youtube video for each exercise so you can view proper techniques if you'd like.
This should be read as first do 1 pull-up, then 2 push-ups, then 3 air squats. That constitutes one set and should be repeated 3 times. Then you do 2 pull-ups, 4 push-ups, and 6 air squats and should be repeated 3 times etc...
You can modify reps and sets, but the idea is to get a solid full-body effort going for long enough to build strength and endurance. As you get more advanced, you can add reps and sets. For example, I will typically do 10 pull-ups, 20 push-ups, and 30 air squats repeated 10 times. I occasionally will wear a 20lb weighted vest. This adds to strength building and calorie burning. Plus it helps simulate wearing a backpack full of gear.
Having a strong core is perhaps the most important element to outdoor fitness. A strong core will help when you hike up and down mountains, ride your bike, climb or swim. Do not mistake having a strong core with having a six-pack! We can all have solid cores regardless of our body fat. I do the following after my strength workouts usually 2-3x per week:
3 x 10 ab reverse curl
3 x 20 Russian twist
3 x 1 minute plank
To make it easier or harder you can increase/decrease reps and number of exercises. This whole thing only takes 10-15 minutes max. As your core gets stronger you will move through it even faster.
I also like to begin or end my workouts with a 1 mile run.
I know it's a little unusual for an outdoor newsletter to focus on some fitness, but the better shape we are in, the more we'll enjoy our outdoor hobbies. If you have any questions let me know! I've linked to a bunch of youtube videos so you can see proper form on these exercises. Remember: It's not as important that you do all of this, just do what you can. If you only have 10 minutes in a day, do some quick push-ups and sit-ups and get your body moving. Best of luck and I look forward to hearing about your adventures.